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Caroline Ryan

Posted 18 March 2016
by Caroline Ryan

Grounds for divorce

There is only one ground for divorce and that is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. To establish this ground the party applying for the divorce [the petitioner] must rely on one of five prescribed facts:

  • Adultery – if your spouse has committed adultery with someone of the opposite sex and you cannot live with them any longer.
  • Unreasonable behaviour – if your spouse has acted in a way that you feel it would be intolerable to live with them. This is a subjective ground and you will need to provide examples of the behaviour relied upon, this can include control issues, poor conduct, lack of intimacy, verbal, physical and mental abuse.
  • Desertion – if your spouse has left you without ending your relationship, without good reason, without agreement or for more than two years within the past two and a half years. This is seldom used.
  • Two years separation with consent – so long as your spouse agrees. We will often ask the other party to sign a consent form prior to the issue of the petition.
  • Five years separation without consent – if you have been living apart for more than five years your spouse does not have to consent for this.

Unfortunately we do not yet have “no fault divorce” and these five factors can be unsatisfactory because clients are unable to initiate divorce proceedings immediately without inferring blame on the other party, which in itself increases the animosity at the start of any discussions surrounding the divorce process.

Parties are often agreed that the marriage has broken down and do not want to wait 2 years before initiating divorce proceedings. The only alternative, currently, is to put together an unreasonable behaviour petition which will be sufficient to satisfy the Judge that there should be an entitlement to decree nisi.

We are there for pleased that a No Fault Divorce Bill is being considered in response to expressions of dissatisfaction in this area of the law and hope that an alternative to the inflammatory fault based divorces being considered.

For those contemplating divorce, it is important to seek advice early on the different approaches available so that you can make it as smooth as possible for your family. Contact us at Tozers Family Law Solicitors for all your divorce queries.


Photo by: Stevepb




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About the author

Caroline Ryan

Caroline Ryan

Consultant Solicitor

Consultant in the Exeter family team with particular expertise in finances on divorce